To gain weight fast you need two important things: A diet plan and a workout plan.
A healthy eating plan with the right foods in the right amounts, and at the right times, gives you the fuel you need to get the most out of every workout you do. Combining a weight gain diet plan with the right workout approach maximizes your results and gives you the edge you need to gain weight fast.
The first question guys usually ask when they’re trying to gain weight is, “What is the best food to eat?”
And that’s the right question to be asking. That’s why we’re going to start off talking about what a good weight gain diet looks like…
Weight Gain Diet Part 1: Total Calories
The total number of calories you should eat depends on your metabolism, your workout schedule, and on the amount of weight you would like to gain.
Although a quick rule of thumb to gain weight fast is 35 to 40 calories per kilogram of current body weight, calorie needs vary widely based on age, height, and activity level in addition to body weight.
To estimate your caloric needs, start by estimating your basal metabolic rate.[adrotate group=”1″]Convert your body weight to kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.2. For example, a 180-pound man weighs about 81.8 kilograms because 180 divided by 2.2 equals 81.8.
Convert your height to centimeters by multiplying inches by 2.54. For example, a 6-foot tall (or 72-inch) man is about 183 centimeters tall because 72 inches multiplied by 2.54 equals 182.88 centimeters.
Insert your weight, height and age into the Mifflin-St. Jeor predictive equation for healthy adults.
10(weight in kilograms) + 6.25(height in centimeters) – 5(age in years) + 5
For example, 10(81.8 kg) + 6.25(183 cm) – 5(30 years) + 5 = 1816.75, or about 1,800 calories.
Once you’ve estimated your basal metabolic rate, the next step is to factor the demands of your workouts and other lifestyle demands:
- If you do a moderate workout or play sports three to five days per week, multiply your basal metabolic rate by 1.55 to estimate your total daily caloric usage.
- For a demanding workout or sports six to seven days per week, use 1.725.
- If you work a physically demanding job in addition to performing a challenging workout six or seven days per week, use 1.9.
For example, let’s say you fall into the first category. You’re moderately active during the day, so you would take your 1,800 basal metabolic calories multiplied by 1.55, which equals about 2,800 calories per day.
Once you’ve established the number of calories your body is using each day to maintain your weight, you can finally calculate the actual number of calories you’ll need to consume each day to gain weight fast.
Assuming that all of the extra calories you eat are utilized for muscle generation, each pound of muscle requires an additional 2,500 calories.
To increase your weight by a sustainable two pounds of muscle per week, then, you’ll need to add 700 calories to your diet each day. For the 180-pound man in the example, that means a total caloric intake of 3,200 calories per day.
Weight Gain Diet Part 2: Protein
The maximum utilization of protein for non-energy purposes has been established at around 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. In other words, any protein that you consume above and beyond 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight will either be used as energy or stored as fat.
To build a diet designed to gain weight fast, multiply your body weight in kilograms by 1.5 to calculate the maximum amount of protein your body can use toward muscle building.
For example, 81.8 kilograms multiplied by 1.5 equals 122.7 grams of protein per day.
Because each gram of protein contains four calories, 122 grams of protein comprise 488 of the daily calories for a 180-pound man who is trying to gain weight fast.
Weight Gain Diet Part 3: Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel. As such, they are the most efficient and clean-burning source of energy you can put into your body. Although some diets call for excessively high protein intake and very low carbohydrate intake, this type of diet is not the ideal way to gain weight fast.
When protein is used as a fuel source, it produces high amounts of metabolic waste that does not contribute to your weight gain goals and puts unnecessary pressure on your organs – especially the kidneys and liver.
To gain weight fast and use every calorie to its full potential, athletes should derive 45 to 75 percent of the calories in their diet from carbohydrates.
Because each carbohydrate contains four calories, a 3,800-calorie diet should contain 428 to 712 grams of carbohydrates each day.
Rather than eating carbohydrates from white flours and simple sugars – like doughnuts, soda and white pasta – choose nutrient-dense foods like whole grains and fruit.
Weight Gain Diet Part 4: Fat
Although fat – especially saturated fat and trans-fat – should not figure prominently in your diet, it does play an important role…
For best health, 15 to 35 percent of calories should come from fat. Choose vegetable and seed oils, nuts, seeds and avocado for healthier fat sources and avoid butter, lard and other solid fats.
Because each gram of fat contains nine calories, a 3,800-calorie diet should contain between 63 to 148 grams of fat.
Weight Gain Diet Part 5: Fiber
Although fiber doesn’t contribute directly toward your goal to gain weight fast, it is a critical component of your diet. Fiber helps remove cholesterol from your body, which reduces your risk of developing heart disease. In addition, fiber helps prevent constipation and reduces your risk of colon cancer.
For each 1,000 calories in your diet, you should eat a minimum of 14 grams of fiber. That means there should be a minimum of 53 grams of fiber per day in a 3,800-calorie diet. By choosing whole grains, vegetables and fruits to fulfill your carbohydrate needs, you should have no trouble maintaining your fiber needs.
A complete done-for-you weight gain diet plan can be found at WeightGainBlueprint.com.
Periodized Weight Lifting Plan
To gain weight fast, you need to eat more calories than you burn. But if you want to make sure that you gain weight in the form of muscle (instead of fat) then you need a smart weight lifting plan.
The best weight lifting plans for maximizing your muscle and strength gains are periodized plans.
If you’ve come across periodized lifting plans in the past, you may have thought they looked complicated and confusing. However, they can be stripped down to a very basic progression of strength gains and strategic rest.
Periodized weight lifting programs can be thought of in mesocycles and microcycles. Each mesocycle contains two to four microcycles.
- In the first microcycle, you build a stable foundation with relatively low weights and high repetitions – think two to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.
- After a week or a month, depending on the length of your microcycles, you increase the weights and reduce the repetitions – think two to four sets of six to 10 reps.
- Finally, you move on to an intense strength-gaining microcycle where you lift very heavy weights. This cycle is pushing you to your maximum and should include three to six sets of one to six reps.
- In the fourth microcycle, you offload and take a short, active recovery. Depending on your program, the recovery can last for a few days or a week. During recovery, you’ll do some cross-training or just indulge in a sport or activity you haven’t been able to make time for during your training.
When you end your recovery period, you’ve completed one mesocycle. To begin the new mesocycle, you’ll start once more with relatively light weights and high repetitions. Once again, you’ll be lifting for about two to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.
However, this time around, you’ll be stronger and you’ll be using heavier weights. As you repeat the process through mesocycle after mesocycle, you’ll be able to gain and retain the greatest amount of muscle size and strength with the least risk of injury and burnout. And this, my friends, is how to gain weight fast.
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below. And if you want a complete step-by-step plan that shows you how to gain weight fast, I’d recommend the Weight Gain Blueprint program by Jeff Masterson.
Benardot, D. (2006). Advanced Sports Nutrition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Bompa, T., & Haff, G. (2009). Periodization: Theory and Method of Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Brooks, D. (2004). The Complete Book of Personal Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Clark, N. (2008). Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Escott-Stump, S. (2008). Nutrition and Diagnosis-related Care, Sixth Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans. USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.